Posted in Review

Review – Grit: The Power of Passion and Perseverance by Angela Duckworth (2016)

Finally! Here is my review of Angela Duckworth’s Grit: The Power of Passion and Perseverance. There are a few spoilers here in this review, but I tried to limit myself with the points I specifically wanted to make this time around. It’s mostly from the early chapters, so the later chapters are relatively spoil-free, but two direct quotes from the conclusion chapter are near the end of the review, so beware!

There were two things that immediately caught my attention in the first chapter. First, “It was critically important – and not at all easy – to continue after failure.” Preach it, sister. Continuing after failure is one of the hardest things that I do in life, constantly. Each failure is a trial for me to overcome. Either I quit what I’m doing, or I’ll need to persevere. Reading Duckworth’s book reminded me of my choices, and it helped to bring out a commitment (as I read her book in the first place to self-improve and to have motivation) to something that I’m passionate about that I want to continue on doing with a purpose – reading and then having discussions with those here on my blog and my community, or at least somewhere to post it so I may go back later on and revisit this review should I ever reread Grit and see if I still feel the same way. All of this leads to the second point in the first chapter: “It’s a combination of passion and perseverance that made high achievers special – they had grit.” After having read this book, Grit is something that I want to implement in my life.

Growing up, and even now, I sometimes struggle with the Naturalness Bias, but I have been shown contrary to it by people I’ve been acquainted with through sports functions whenever I attended my siblings’ tournaments. “The Naturalness Bias is a hidden prejudice against those who’ve achieved what they have because they worked for it, and a hidden preference for those whom we think arrived at their place in life because they’re naturally talented.” I grew up in a culture that idolized those that successfully made it to the ‘top’. I watched people be pushed to their limits, and I watched them excel. And it’s because of that, that I saw all the arduous work and effort they put into the activity that pretty much dominated their life. They were talented, but they expanded their talent by putting in the effort, which culminated in great skill, and with more effort placed, I saw them achieve their victory. I hope I can get there too, one day, in my ultimate concern, but in the meantime, I can only do what I can do, and perhaps a little more. I need to keep putting in the effort to get there.

Duckworth develops a formula grit: “Talent x Effort = Skill —> Skill x Effort = Achievement.” She goes onto explaining how her formula functions: “Talent is how quickly your skills improve when you invest effort. Achievement is what happens when you take your acquired skills and use them…. When you consider individuals in identical circumstances, what each achieves depends on just two things – Talent and Effort. Talent – how fast we improve in skill – absolutely matters. But effort factors into the calculations twice, not once. Effort builds skill. At the same time, effort makes skills productive.” Her formula makes sense to me, personally, and I hope to utilize it to cultivate my ultimate concern of self-improvement for my loved ones and me. It does give me hope that as long as I keep at it, my talent and effort will result in skill, and my skill and further effort will hopefully result in achievement.

There are two ways to grow grit: on your own or with other’s help. Duckworth expands upon this in her conclusion: “On your own, you can grow grit ‘from the inside out!’: You can cultivate your interests. You can develop a habit of daily challenges – exceeding – skill practice. You can connect your work to a purpose beyond yourself. And you can learn to hope when all seems lost. You can also grow your grit ‘from the outside in!’ Parents, teachers, bosses, mentors, friends – developing your personal grit depends critically on other people.” I try my best to implement both, but I lean more toward a more solitary lifestyle that focuses on growing grit from the inside out.

One of the most important things that I thought essential that I took away from this book was: “So, finishing whatever you begin without exception is a good way to miss opportunities to start different, possibly better, things. Ideally, even if you’re discontinuing one activity and choosing different lower-order goals, you’re still holding fast to your ultimate concern.” I think it would be good to track what I’m doing at the very least on a day-to-day basis before capturing more nitty gritty details of how long I spent doing the activity, what exactly the activity was specifically, etc. I’m not quite sure exactly on the details, but it’s for sure that having read Grit, I am inspired to make a change for myself.

Overall, I think this book is great if you open yourself to its message and ultimately do what works for you. It was a wonderful read for me, and I highly recommend it. While working on your passion through perseverance, you’ll find if it’s genuine or not through the hard work that you put in. I’m blessed enough that I know I’ve found a genuine passion in reading and then sharing with others what I’ve learned. I give Grit: The Power of Passion and Perseverance a 5/5. You can also check out Angela Duckworth’s Ted Talk, where she talks about grit.

Posted in Personal

ADHD, Anxiety, Depression, and Stress Makes For An Awful Combination

How do you stop yourself from stressing out so much about stressing out because things have been uncertain lately? I’m beyond stressed at the moment. Not even the normal things that I like to do is helping. Everything feels like a chore, and so far today I have continued to treat everything like a chore. At the very least, my house is much cleaner than it has been in a while. I find that I do clean sometimes when I’m not feeling well. It sometimes exacerbates the pain, but when I realize that it means less work later on, the stress does lessen some but it’s still making me into a tight, raging ball of fire.

Moreover, I’ve started to realize that my crying fits are my way of catharsis. According to the Merriam-Webster dictionary, Catharsis can be defined as: “a purification or purgation that brings about spiritual renewal or release from tension” or “elimination of a complex by bringing it to consciousness and affording it expression” among a few other definitions.  I’m releasing the negativity in order to bring about a sense of release from tension and giving it expression by my physical way of crying. And taking the time to write about it here on my blog. Purging of negative emotions is one of the things that I try to do regularly because I often feel too much. I find emotional regulation challenging with my host of mental illnesses.

The days when my anxiety and depression hit are some of the worst days imaginable when combined with stress and my ADHD. Everything seems bleak even through my prayers. But thinking of prayers reminds me that I can only keep going forward. In the meantime, I’ll continue to try to do what I normally like. Hopefully the comfort just rolls off of it and into me.

Posted in Personal, religion

Bible Study: Romans 9 (NRSV)

I spent time last night listening to a recording of the book of Romans in the New Testament and completed it. I followed the audio by silently reading the text at the same time. It’s been a long time since I’ve done anything remotely like that, but it felt kind of nice. This was the first time that I read entirety of the Book of Romans (I’ve read parts of it before), so I wasn’t quite sure what to expect. Taking the time to soak it in what I read and reflect is something that I want to do more. At the end, I found myself mulling over Chapter Nine especially.

God, as creator of all, is the one to choose what to do with you as he wishes. Verses 14-18 go:

What then are we to say? Is there injustice on God’s part? By no means! For he says to Moses, “I will have mercy on whom I have I have mercy, and I will have compassion on whom I have compassion.” So it depends not on human will or exertion, but on God who shows mercy. For the scripture says to Pharaoh, “I have raised you up for the very purpose of showing my power in you, so that my name may be proclaimed in all the earth. So then he has mercy on whomever he chooses, and he hardens the heart of whomever he chooses.”

God will have mercy for whoever He wishes to have mercy for, and same with compassion. There is no injustice because it is His will, and He is acting upon a divine level that’s not depending on human will or exertion. Moreover, Paul recalls God’s hardening of the Pharaoh’s heart as Moses goes to the Pharaoh to gain the release of his people to show the greatness of God. God has a plan for His people and beloved, and if He has the will to make it so, it will happen.

Later, Paul follows this up in verses 20, 22, and 23:

But who indeed are you, a human being, to argue with God…? What if God, desiring to show his wrath and to make known his power, has endured with much patience the objects of wrath that are made for destruction; and what if he has done so in order to make known the riches of his glory for the objects of mercy, which he has prepared beforehand for glory.

Echoing through my mind after I read this was: Who are we to thoughtlessly judge our creator?

Ultimately, these verses made me think of suffering and why God would allow it to happen. To know one extreme is to reveal the other. On a personal level, being constantly ill, and having been that way since I was young, I wondered why I was so sick, why I was in so much pain while I was so young, why I couldn’t be as healthy as my friends or even as healthy as my siblings. Even on a grander scale like how could God ever allow something like the World Wars and other terrorist attacks to happen. But Paul reminds me to look underneath the underneath. God has endured the flaws of humanity with occasional shows of enforcing His wrath to prepare us for His ultimate goal:” To make known the riches of his glory for the objects of mercy, which he has prepared beforehand for glory.” With the life that I have now, I must make the best of it even with the obstacles placed before me.

The ending of the chapter speaks out to me the most of relying on faith. I am a Gentile. The inclusion of God accepting us as His people and of being His beloved speaks to me. Through my faith, I pray that God continues to guide my loved ones and I through life. The belief that God has a plan for us that surpasses the suffering is one I believe in.

Glory be to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit, as it was in the beginning, is now, and ever shall be, world without end. Amen.

Posted in Personal, Review

On Studying Books: The Basic Process

I do have somewhat of a process that I follow when it comes to reading books that I want to retain information about, and often will want to place in my Commonplace Binder, which is based on the Commonplace book. Perhaps it’s a nonfiction book about self-improvement or history, or even perhaps it’s a fictional classic. Regardless, I have relatively the same process of studying books whether it’s fiction or nonfiction.

1.       Read the book cover to cover and highlight quotes.

2.       Go back to those quotes, write down, often word for word, on pieces of filler paper (written in ink, on front and back of the pages) to be placed in my Common Place binder, to soak in the words.

3.       Then, I often will write a review (currently, the best example of how I do this would be how I did my Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead by Tom Stoppard review where I used a lot of quotes and expanded until I hopefully finish the review for Angela Duckworth’s Grit – aiming for it to be out by Monday) while going through the notes I took to also get a more personal part of the process of what I liked, what spoke to me about the book, etc.

I like collecting a huge number of quotes from the book I’m studying as you can see from my notetaking of Duckworth’s Grit. The part of taking the time to write the information down physically and look over it every now and then is most important for me. Then, I tie it altogether into one review in one long process. When I want to intensely study a book, I do not skip any of these steps. I don’t do this for every book, but every now and then, I feel inspired from the author’s words and I want to write them down as is, take the time to mull on them, and then write down my thoughts. The third step is often the hardest for me sometimes.

I get a lot of ideas swirling in my head, but when I go for the paper, it’s like all the thoughts I had evaporated. Sometimes I manage to get it down; most times the ideas never make it to the paper. It’s a struggle that I’m trying to overcome. I’ve invested in a few A5 Muji notebooks so I could start taking these with me outside, and hopefully I’ll be more inclined to write things down. I like going outside with the intent to sit down somewhere and study. It’s something that’s stayed with me since college.

Posted in Personal

On Reading: A Passion Close To My Heart + Meditation

As a child, I loved physical activity. You could find me trying to climb things from trying to figure out how to climb my home’s walls and to figuring out how to climb onto my roof. That all changed when my illnesses began to worsen during my adolescence. When I became unable to run without my ankles becoming swollen and painful after a few minutes of continuous running, I knew my body couldn’t quite keep up anymore, or at least on par with my classmates for sure. Eventually, things became too painful, and much like now, I was bedridden but much more bitter about it at the time. It’s been a little over a decade since then.

Once I had realized that I’d be limited physically, I strove to find something else to focus on. This is where reading came in. I started to read to sink myself into different worlds and into different lives, exploring places and meeting people through my books. George R.R. Martin wrote, “A reader lives a thousand lives before he dies. The man who never reads lives only one.” This became my life starting from my adolescence. It was also around the time that I became interested in history and archaeology, and I would often be found reading material on Ancient Egypt or other archaeological discoveries. Reading for pleasure and study has been a part of my life from a young age, and now, doing my best to start cultivating it (as I do believe that reading is a skill that needs constant exercising to read at a consistent, high level rate) as an autodidact now that I’m no longer in school is something that I place a heavy importance on. Reading as a passion is an integral part of me. Reading can be expensive or inexpensive depending on the route you go on (buying your own books or using resources to read for free such as libraries), but it’s so worth to take the time to sit down and read a book. There’s so much to learn, and reading is one of the ways to learn more.

I’m blessed to have the time and opportunity to do what I want, and I hope to do my best to continue to show gratitude for it. I’ve been meditating these past few days to help clear my mind and calm myself down, and I hope that meditation will help me improve myself so that I may open up my mind to the blessings of the world and the blessings of my loved ones. Between reading and meditation, I hope to expand myself in my passion and improve myself.

Posted in Review

Film Review: Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 (2017)

I managed to avoid most of the spoilers as I waited these past few weeks until my SO and I had the time to go on a date to watch Guardians. I entered the theatre hyped and came out satisfied. Guardians didn’t fail me. I didn’t know what to expect in this sequel, but it was a fun ride.

~ Spoilers ahead! ~

The family-like rapport between the characters is still one of the greatest thing about Guardians. One of the major themes of Guardians is the emphasis on the choice of family. You chose who your family is. This is exemplified multiple times throughout the movie.

Here, Peter Quill is pitted against his biological father who murdered his mother so he wouldn’t feel a need to go back to earth a fourth time. I could get behind the idea that Ego did love his River Lily, but it wasn’t enough. Ego loved himself the most that he was willing to kill his loved ones and his flesh and blood to do what he believed was his perceived mission. Peter’s little spat with Gamora before she stormed off about family emphasized the part that blood isn’t all there is to a family alongside Drax’s remarks on family as well. However, I think the shining moment on the choice of family was the relationship between Peter and Yondu, especially once Peter realized how much Yondu kept from him while believing that he only kept him around was because Peter could fit into smaller spaces and was a good thief.

Wow, Yondu. Yes, wow, Yondu. I didn’t expect to be rooting for him throughout the entire second movie. I cried when he died to save Peter, and I also cried when half of his crew first died. Especially when his second-in-command died. For those of you who noticed that was Chibs from Sons of Anarchy and how he did his best to remain loyal to Yondu till the end, I think it made the scene greater if you knew the reference since it also can infer just how awesome of a captain Yondu really was. Yondu had great scenes throughout the movie. Not only did he have a father role with Peter, he developed somewhat of a mentor role to Rocket as they bonded over their similarities. I’d say that Yondu made this film that much better because he was just as much of a driving force for helping the film along (which makes Groot and Rocket’s welcoming him to the Guardians of the Galaxy that much more bittersweet). The contrast between him and Ego as the father figure of Peter was well done. Yondu’s statement near the end of his life summed it up well: “Hey may have been your father, Quill, but he wasn’t your daddy.” Guess who was his daddy? That’s right, folks. Yondu was Peter’s daddy. Kraglin and Peter’s happiness at Yondu receiving a Ravager’s funeral was awesome too – it had the feeling of two sons celebrating the life of their fatherly figure by the figures that their father had respected and cared for. In addition, the Mary Poppins moment between Peter and Yondu was also sweet.

Peter Quill: You look like Mary Poppins.

Yondu: Is he cool?

Peter Quill: Hell yeah, he’s cool.

Yondu: I’m Mary Poppins, y’all!

In the end, Peter realized that Yondu did give him the childhood that he wanted, just with different activities, but the feelings behind them were the same. The quick flashbacks that Peter has includes a brief glimpse of Peter as a boy being taught by Yondu to shoot an arrow, I believe it was. It was rather quick, but having caught a glimpse of it melted my heart. Yondu was definitely my favorite throughout this movie; Rocket and Groot were second and third, respectively.

Groot, as always, is one of the most adorable things in Guardians. I giggled at some of his temper tantrums. He truly is adorable. I was furious when those filthy things were torturing him. The casualness of Yondu, Rocket, and Groot getting out of their troubled situation once Yondu got his weapon was badass. The streak of Yondu’s red arrow shooting across the screen to kill the traitors emphasized that Yondu wasn’t weak; he just knew when to do the right thing. I did enjoy Yondu, Rocket, Groot, and Kraglin’s adventures while everyone else was on Ego’s planet.

The character development was on point this film. I’d argue that maybe a few jokes less would’ve made it greater, but I did laugh a lot while watching the movie inasmuch as I felt I could get away with without bothering people. I knew watching Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 would mean having a good time, and it certainly was. I cried a few times throughout the film; the film had a good balance of its comedic and tragic moments. Overall, I’d rate it a 90/100. Guardians of the Galaxy Vol 2 is a solid film that has its shining moments that brings great joy to its viewers.

Posted in Personal, religion

Praying During Emotionally Trying Times

This past week has been awful emotionally. There’s been moments when I just want to give up on everything, but I know that’s not me. With that in mind,  I searched out ways to muster strength to continue on as I slowly lost hope little by little. Eventually, I took out the rosary my grandmother gave me a while back, and I prayed. I prayed with all the desperation that I felt. I prayed to God for strength. I prayed to God for stability. I prayed my Hail Mary’s and Our Fathers through my tears, and slowly as I concentrated by praying aloud and focusing on the prayers themselves, I felt a calm wash over me, slowly, each time, and found the will to get back up and face my mistakes with the notion to take responsibility and to become better. The power of prayer and the belief in Our Father’s love helped push me on. It’s a terrible battle of fighting off the dark thoughts that swirl in my mind due to depression and anxiety, but through Christianity, I am finding my solace for God is good.

Every day is a new day, and I would like to treat it as a new start. I would like to take my past in consideration but not have it consume me that it stops me from making today and the rest of my days a better life for my loved ones and I. It’s a battle every day, but I must carry on.

Glory to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit, As it was in the beginning, and now, and ever shall be, world without end. Amen!